Bill Gates Rationalizes Use Of Private Jets, But Claims He’s Offsetting His Carbon Footprint
Microsoft Corp. Founder Bill Gates fielded charges of hypocrisy in a BBC interview this week after a broadcaster asked how he squared his extensive and carbon-heavy use of private jets to travel with his dire warnings of climate change.
Gates answered that his funding of clean energy projects and climate initiatives more than offsets his own carbon-intensive lifestyle. “I buy the gold standard, of funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint.”
“I’m comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for the offsets, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy Group is spending, that I’m part of the solution,” Gates added.
Bill Gates isn’t the first climate crusader to face criticism for sounding the alarm on climate change despite a personal carbon footprint far larger than the average American. Former Vice President Al Gore has come under fire for flying frequently and living in a luxurious mansion with a large carbon footprint. Gore, a vegan, says he offsets his travel emissions with a program that balances out this behavior by funding tree planting and other carbon-negative activities.
As long as fringe activists urge the public to give up hamburgers and air travel, this carbon-intensive behavior from elites will keep rankling a lot of people. But from an investing standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether they’re hypocrites or not. As Al Gore and Bill Gates know from experience, clean energy is one of the most lucrative sectors in the world today.
In 2013, Forbes estimated Gore’s wealth at $300 million, or $70 million richer than fellow presidential contender Mitt Romney, who was derided as a plutocrat. In 2004, Gore cofounded Generation Investment Management LLP, a $36 billion fund that invests in companies that are aggressively decarbonizing.
Whether he’s partly motivated by sincere environmentalism isn’t the point. What matters is that Gore knows that clean energy stocks, as a group, have outperformed the broader markets since 2009, when clean energy stimulus boosted solar power by 2,500%, tripled wind power and created Tesla Inc. as we know it, according to Bloomberg. The three best-performing S&P 500 stocks over the last five years have all been solar plays.
Gore’s fund isn’t going after large-cap companies like Tesla or SolarEdge Inc. Instead, it’s targeting small-cap companies with revenue between $30 million and $300 million.
Gore, Gates and other well-connected climate activists will likely do well as the world decarbonizes in the years ahead. While Gore’s fund has onerous entry requirements typical of most investment firms, Benzinga is tracking one small privately owned solar firm that, for a limited time, is open to everyday investors. To learn more about its patented microgrid technology that’s already causing a stir in Northern California, click here.
This article was originally published on Benzinga and appears here with permission.